AIM student Michael Higgins is helming the creation of our new First Nations Community Centre at AIM’s Melbourne campus.
“I am excited to provide a community space at AIM that is comfortable for all First Nations people (and visitors) to visit, relax, have a yarn, listen or read,” Michael says. “We have had a lot of people reaching out to learn about our culture. I believe having the centre readily available to all students means that these questions can be heard and we can start the yarn,” he adds.
“My dream is that the centre will allow this dialogue to ebb and flow until Aboriginal culture and tradition is something shared with all AIM students through not only discussion but eventually the curriculum too,” Michael says.
FIRST NATIONS ELDERS: TEACHING THE NEXT GENERATION
“Music and dance are an integral part of our culture,” Michael explains. “There are songs for everyday things, as well as songs that are used for ceremony. Songs are used to tell tales of Dreamtime and Creation, and each tribe has their own traditions, songs and language,” he explains. “Along with different instruments belonging to different people and countries, tribal music is very unique and specific to the people who make it. This makes music and song very special to Aboriginal people.”
Aboriginal elders will be a part of educating the students, once the centre is established. “It will be a great honour to have elders come and share a few biccies while I ask them for advice and for stories,” Michael adds. “Our elders are a wealth of knowledge and their input into what we are doing here at AIM will be hugely appreciated and welcomed.”
“I would love for all students to leave AIM with a better understanding of the true story and nature of Australia, and for them to obtain a deeper understanding of the rich culture that belongs to the First People of Australia,” Michael says. “To be able to teach, firstly people have to want to learn. You can’t shove things in people’s face if they have no interest and expect them to listen. Generally you know people are ready to listen when they begin to ask questions.”
THE ORIGIN OF THE FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITY CENTRE
The birth of the AIM First Nations community centre has been in the works since Michael’s first enrolment interview at AIM, when he brought up the idea. “I wasn’t taken very seriously at first, as my previous study record was awful,” he says. “However, AIM gave me a chance to study part time and as time progressed, I was able to dedicate myself to full-time and I succeeded in completing the first year of my Bachelor of Music (Composition and Production). I was invited to join AIM’s academic board as the first Aboriginal member. A year later, I was able to successfully implement a plan with the approval of Dr. Greg to launch the first community centre at AIM. That I believe to be a truly incredible part of AIM: the belief they have in their students and the opportunities to make dreams come true.”
The most crucial thing Michael has been taught in his culture is something we could all learn from: “to listen, rather than speak.”